Yellowstone edition of NatGeo: The May 2016 edition of National Geographic magazine was devoted entirely to Yellowstone National Park: “America’s Wild Idea.” In an aisle at the grocery or at your hometown bookstore’s periodical section, you may have seen the old-script cover, flipped through the edition’s pages, or even read a couple of the local portraits and articles—and still missed a major coup. Bozeman’s David Quammen will go down in National Geographic‘s 128-year history as the first author to pen all the articles in one edition. Bravo!
Snow Geese die in Berkeley Pit: Montana’s most prominent Superfund site, the 700 acres of concentrated mining runoff near the heart of Butte, perhaps shouldn’t be described as “super” anything. As more sad news showed early this month, the expanse of water has proven very attractive to migrating birds. A “swirl” of tens of thousands of snow geese landed on its surface and, according to reports, it is not known if any survived.
Billings chosen by Outside Magazine as “Best town of 2016”: Take that, Missoulians and Bozemanites. Billings—yes, Billings—was chosen in August as Outside Magazine’s “Best Town for 2016.” According to Mike Hodges, owner of H-Bar Hat Shop, “It’s kind of a well-kept secret, I think. Billings is just a small town with a lot of people in it.” A counterintuitive choice, perhaps, but more people are choosing to make a life between the “rims” and the Yellowstone River.
Link with video: https://www.outsideonline.com/2107026/why-billings-montana-best-town-2016
Zinke as Secretary of Interior: The junior Congressman from Whitefish strode through the national spotlight when he was summoned to Trump Tower in lower Manhattan in early December to meet the president-elect. That was just a preview. Two days later, Trump announced Zinke as his nominee for the Interior cabinet post. Environmentalists and public-land lovers have taken turns holding their breath ever since, unsure whether the self-described outdoorsman will step back from earlier statements and scuttle decades of progress under the bright lights and glam of the coming administration.
Yellowstone River shutdown: For three long weeks in late summer (and major tourism) season, the FWP closed 183 miles of the Yellowstone River, along with all tributaries, from the Wyoming/Yellowstone border all the way to Laurel. An invasive parasite, called proliferate kidney disease, decimated whitefish by the tens of thousands. Some blame was thrown at the governor’s office, in the aftermath, for acting too rashly. But the writing is on the wall: shorter and weaker winters, drier and hotter summers, in addition to wasteful agricultural watering practices spells out a big problem for the future of Montana waterways.
Alt-Right at center of storm in Whitefish: A portion of our state’s political root system has been blighted by ultra-conservatives, since long before this latest rash of headlines. Even so, Trump’s populist rise has empowered a sideshow of the political spectrum which found a big stage in Whitefish this December. Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/whitefish-montana-jews-daily-stormer.html
100-year anniversary of Jeannette Rankin’s election to Congress: Perhaps a simple summary is the best for Jeannette Rankin’s election in 1916: not only was she the first woman elected to a U.S. national office, but she did so before women had won the national right to vote. On November 7th, 1916, Rankin was elected to Montana’s seat in the United States Congress. In the historic woman’s own words, “Men and women are like right and left hands; it doesn’t make sense not to use both.”
Coal production hits 35-year low: The U.S. coal industry has received grim warnings for years: natural gas is a cheap, cleaner, and readily available competitor; China’s peak coal demand was in 2013; production in the U.S. declined to a 35-year-low in the second quarter of 2016; and increasing regulations made the fossil fuel even less competitive. Taken nationally, this crippling combination hit hardest in the Powder and Tongue River valleys of Montana and Wyoming, along with the coal-fired industry town of Colstrip. The world’s last remaining coal market that insiders expect to expand is India… which has their own coal reserves to develop.
Montana’s governor seat not for sale: It was a landslide election year in the U.S, with seemingly all the gains in federal and state government stacking up for Republicans. In Montana, a conservative Legislature took a few more seats on the Right. However, the five-million-dollar, largely self-funded campaign for governor by Greg Gianforte was unable to ride the strong winds of right-winged support. Gianforte lost by a decisive margin of 3.8% to incumbent, Democrat Steve Bullock.
Re-settling Syrian refugees in Montana: Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin. And, as late as September, Montana was one of a handful of states that hadn’t received any of the approximate 10,000 Syrian refugees in America. But neither of these critical points could keep a swarm of fear, racism, and conspiracy theories from taking off in Montana early this fall, and the debate came to a head in Missoula.